Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Ageism is prejudice due to somebody's age. And, being a teenager, I see it a lot. It really isn't right. And it isn't cool to do. So I will talk about the various "kinds" of ageism that teenagers, and young people in general, see.

The first one revolves around babies. I've gotten many dirty looks in public, because I dare to be seen with a baby. The baby isn't even mine, he doesn't look like me. However, since I am young, and simply holding the child, he is mine. And we all know what teen moms are like. They all sleep around, are totally irresponsible, won't go anywhere in life, probably tried for the baby because they want to be on MTV, the list goes on.. And on.. And on. But none of it's true! Sure, there are some girls out there that do that. But I shouldn't be forced to wear a scarlet TM on my clothes for simply holding a child. My mom once overheard a nasty comment from a complete stranger because of my brother and I. When I was born, she was 21 and married. Kyle came along 2 years later. She was still married, to the same man. However, because she looked young, it was disgraceful to have kids.
But, honestly, there's no way to win with teen pregnancy. If you keep the baby, you're going nowhere in life and you're a failure and aren't fit to have a child. You're automatically put on welfare and supported by the government. You won't go to college, may or may not finish high school. Your baby daddy will leave you. If you give the baby up for adoption, you'll regret it and wish you hadn't and become a psychopath. If you abort the fetus, you're terrible and selfish and just killed another human being. And, if you are the father, you're a bum and took advantage of her and will leave your child. You're a deadbeat dad and terrible. Your honeymooning stage will only last so long, then you'll leave her. It's really a lose-lose-lose sitatuion.

The second one revolves around appearance. I have a teal mohawk. I oftentimes wear crazy makeup. I get praised for my free spirit and individuality. However, for every compliment I get, I get two glares when I go out in public. I'm automatically a punk, no-good, a rebel, destined to dropout of high school. I automatically smoke and drink and party. I'm the conservative mother's worst nightmare, the person that they don't want their kid to become. However, if they took the time to get to know me, they'd know I make A's and B's. They'd know I love classic movies, Tchaikovsky, and detest underage drinking/smoking. But I am young and look differently than they do.
Don't get me wrong. Teens are just as responsible for stereotyping based on looks as adults are. But I rarely ever get a glare from a fellow teen for having a shaved head. More often than not, they'll stop to pet the sides of my head.

Third one revolves around money. Jessica and Stacy were both stereotyped in this way. A restaurants, waiters will often glare and treat teenagers poorly. We get it, you want a tip, that's where a lot of your money is made. We're no strangers to the plight of lacking funds.
Jessica says that, "Anytime my friends and I would go out to eat, our waitresses would be SO rude and we'd get the worst service. THEY assumed that because we were young, we wouldn't tip well. I was ALWAYS a good tipper. They missed out." My mom got the same treatment once, and the guy wound up fired for it. But, honestly, you would get great tips if you were nice to a group of teenagers. No, we don't have endless pockets. However, if it's a decent group, we'll all chip in a few bucks for tip. I know my friends and I once went out to get pizza. Our waiter was so nice. We spilled two drinks and he just laughed it off. At the end of the night, our waiter got a really nice tip. There were about seven of us. We couldn't tip him more than a few bucks each, but, by each contributing what we had, he got a really hefty tip. (Note: It was all in ones and loose change. But money is money.)
Stacy got stereotyped in the stores. "The store clerks look at you weird and keep checking on you because they think you won't buy anything, you'll just steal." Yes, there are teens that do steal. However, that's not every single one of us. Mall cops once followed a group of friends and me through the mall. Apparently, we were too big of a group, so we were a gang. So many stores asked us to leave, because large groups of teenagers provide distractions for one of us to be able to steal. It was ridiculous. Then, to make matters worse, the fire alarm went off. No less than three mall cops vaporized out of thin air around us. We were nowhere near a fire alarm.

Fourth one is mental capacity. A lot of adults feel that, since I'm a teenager, I'm not capable of forming intelligent thoughts. Katie would often have people stop talking to her once they found out her age. Cass was told that she was too young for things. (I don't know what things they were. Because telling a twelve-year-old she's too young to drive, okay. But telling a seventeen-year-old she can't go to pride, no.) Recently, I was involved in a debate/argument on YouTube. The "gentleman" that I was arguing with told me that "once I grew up I would understand, and they didn't feel like wasting their time on a silly, clueless little girl. I should go crying to Mommy and Daddy, and let them tell me their grown up opinion. I still have a lot of growing up to do." I was yelled at to "GROW UP" and told that they weren't that clueless at my age. Because, since I am younger than thirty, my brain is obviously not capable of rational, adult thought. I'm just a silly little girl and don't understand anything about the world. Another YouTuber was so nice to chime in that I was "zit-faced and pea brained. I was dumber than a load of bricks, obviously a blond. And, that, if I was their child, they'd slap me." (Note: Hair color has nothing to do with intelligence. And, I may be young, but physical abuse is not the way to educate a child.)
It just really rubs me the wrong way when people seem surprised or amused by my thoughts or reasoning. I deserve a say in matters. I'm clever when I agree with you. Don't smirk when my thoughts differ from yours. No, my brain is not fully developed yet. However, it won't do a thing when I'm constantly being put down, belittled for my age, told that I'm not smart enough, that I need an adult's opinion because I'm not capable of rational thought. I am an Honors student. I work my butt off to get A's and B's. I just left a school for the gifted and talented. I understand such concepts as Schrodinger, Freud, and Fibonacci. But, if I offer my opinion on such matters as education, gay marriage, or anything else that adults discuss, I'm just a foolish little girl.

Finally, there is general stereotyping. And, of course, they can't stereotype the good or neutral things. They can't assume that we'll be studying every night to ace our exam, or tutoring each other in Spanish. They just stereotype that we'll be drinking or smoking. Nessa was often looked at as a demon child, because her peers drink and smoke, they automatically assume that she does, too. That's entirely unfair. I don't consume alcohol. I've never even put a puff of tobacco in my lungs, much less marijuana. But teenagers before me have kind of destroyed any record I could hope of having. Lexi was kicked out of the talent show in middle school, because "all the sixth graders didn't sound right."

I hope that, through this, I've prompted some of you to think before you judge somebody based on age. Sure, they may have pink hair and a nose ring. That doesn't make them terrible people. And the girls in jeans and tshirts aren't automatically saints because they don't look freaky. All in all, we're people, too. We have feelings that get hurt, just like yours. In fact, I would venture to say that ours are hurt more easily than yours. Being a teen, we have enough to deal with. We don't need your glares and whispers. Thank you very much for treating us like real people. We think. We may not always have the best thoughts, but we're still learning. Give us time. You wouldn't belittle a toddler for stumbling and falling while learning to walk. Don't belittle us for stumbling. As my parents always say, growing up, we're going to fall on our face sometimes. But that doesn't make us down-and-out.

Huge thanks to my Swamp Family for their additions to this! I love all the feedback I got for it, and tried to include everything I got. If you didn't make it in time, feel free to comment below! <3 Thanks again and huge hugs!

Update: Kelsey is told, by her mom's boyfriend, "you're seventeen years old. What do you know?" whenever she tries to give her opinion on something.

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